Fall poplar and pine trees, lining a dirt road covered by yellow poplar leaves.

Giving Thanks: One Year After Diagnosis

Image of fall poplar and pine trees  lining a dirt road covered in yellow poplar leaves with orange tint coming through transparency of the photo. The text is in white with a quote on gratitude by Melody Beattie

One year ago, I was really a mess.  I had just been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after my general practitioner had exhausted all the tests to see if there was any other explanation for the ongoing, roving pain, extreme exhaustion, and mud-thick, brain fog that had taken my ability to function anywhere close to my normal.

I have been reading through my blogs, taking the time to really relish in where I am now.  I am now off of Cymbalta and many of the frantic supplements I started right away and have slowly worked on weaning to find out if indeed an improvement came from them.  I feel that I’m honing my personal daily protocols that work for me.

In the past few months, I am seeing more of my “normal” show up again for longer and longer periods.  Most days, I’m waking in the morning with the ability to get up right away, clear-headed, and excited about the day.  I’ve been able to make plans more and more with fewer and fewer times of having to through in the cancel-towel. I have returned to the classroom (planned ahead substitute teaching) that has energized me rather than depleted. I have been able to write, thinking through a complicated plot for a fantasy novel I’ve been wanting to write for years.  I’m able to play with my granddaughter and have fun with my family.  I am reclaiming my sense of humor, gratitude, and joy more and more.  These things were not in me last year at this time.

A group of women, dressed in winter gear, walking on a in a row through a leaf covered forest floor.
I’ve connected with a wonderful group of women
who get outdoors together a couple of times a month.


To get here, I have done constant work on figuring out what it was I needed to get back to me. First, thanks to my school district allowing me to use all my saved up sick-days from 26 years of teaching, I went onto long-term leave from 12/7/18 until I retired in June 2019. While this was actually really devastating for me personally and professionally, it was what I needed. With the gift of time, I was able to work on taking care of myself. While I will explain where I’m at right now with my daily protocols, I will let you go to my blog No Stone Left Unturned to see most of what I’ve tried during this past year.

Me taking a selfing in front of a math poster in a classroom that I'm substitute teaching in.
Loved getting back into the classroom
even though high school math isn’t my forte.


One thing, though, I have also learned, is that this is a journey I had to do. There is/was no one who could give me exactly what would work for me just as I can’t give you what will work for you. Thus, thorough research, reliable sources of information, and then the trial and error method seem to me to be the only way to find out what is needed for each individual. Unfortunately, there is no one cure, or it seems even one cause or type of Fibromyalgia.

A pile of fall oak leaves burning and smoking in a bricked fire pit.
Raked leaves for a few hours last week; however,
I may have been pushing it too far.
It felt great doing it, but I was pretty down and out the following two days.


What seems to be working for me and am currently implementing/using:

Supplements

Prescription Medicine

  • Estradiol 0.1MG vaginal cream (2x per week) I’m officially in menopause.
  • Vyvanse 30mg (1X per morning) I was diagnosed with moderate/high ADD 5/2017 and have been taking this ever since. I do go without some days but I do find my thinking to be more scattered.
  • Fluticasone 50MCG/ACT nasal spray 2 puffs per morning (I have a few of the mention MCAD issues listed in the article linked above; this is one of them. Constant nose gunk w/small nostrils=hard time breathing through my nose.

Over-the-Counter

  • Prelief (for bladder pain) I haven’t taken this much, but I do have it on hand.
  • Bayer Back and Body (2 pills every six hours as needed). I really have cut back on this. Several days none at all with the most at two times per day (like the two days after leaf raking).
  • ZzzQuill (1 pill at night as needed) I really don’t take this much. Now and then, if I really want to attempt a solid night’s sleep I will (1-2 times a month). However, it doesn’t always work. Two tends to make me groggy in the morning. I still am having the on and off again ability or lack thereof for sleeping.
  • Mary’s The Remedy 1:1 (300mg CBD/300mg THC) .25 ml via dropper at bedtime. (I’ve taken this when I’m not doing as well. So far, 5 times total. It does seem to help lift my sadness that I get when I’m foggy and tired and possibly helps lessen pain but not majorly. I do feel a bit “odd” but I can function decently. I am taking the lowest dose recommended thus far.) As explained in my blog, Down The Rabbit Hole: Could Medical Marijuana Help? I have obtained a medical marijuana card. However, after trying edibles and the oil, it’s not a favorite go-to remedy.

Self-Help Apps

  • Pathways-This is a neuroplasticity program that uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, meditation, and education to help lessen or even eliminate pain. I’ve been using it for about a month. It’s got some good stuff. You can try it free, enough to figure out what it is. After that, it costs. I did go for the year subscription of $69.00. I’ll write closer to the end of that time what I think of the results.
  • Daylio– This is an easy mood tracker diary. I’m finding it helps me to be more grateful and positive because I can literally see a graph of my ups and downs and really, I’m having way more ups than downs. This time last year, I was so down. However, I wonder if I had this then if I wouldn’t blanket that first few months as complete bed rest and depression because I would see I had some better moments.
  • GaiaYoga routines of all types, focus, levels, and durations. Also, guided meditations and other health and spiritual documentaries, films, series, articles.
  • Calm- I’ve tried this and see it’s benefits; however, I get the same from Pathways and Gaia.
  • The Tapping Solution: In the link provided is a video that can show you specifically what tapping is. The short version is that you literally tap gently on certain areas (mostly on your face), as you speak on what your area of concern is. The app is a guided meditation that helps you work through the issue your focusing on all the while using deep, slow breathing. I use this as a form of “active” meditation, working on a specific area of need. I don’t really know how to explain how/why it works, but it does help me (mostly with the anxiety and brain fog).

Daily Actions

  • Yoga: gentle, yin, restorative
  • Breathwork & Meditation
  • Myofascial release with ball and roller
  • 30 minutes of cardio
  • Resting as needed
  • Mostly vegan meals

Weekly Actions

  • Gentle chiropractic therapy with massage therapy
  • Journaling/writing for reflection
  • Connecting with others

As needed

After Guest Teaching for a full day last Thursday, a 3-mile hike with friends on Friday, and raking for a few hours on Saturday, I found that I was really worn out, brain fog, and higher pain on Sunday and Monday. So, as my body demanded, I rested. This does get me down, but I’m working on being grateful even during that time. Grateful for the days that preceded the low point. And grateful for the time and support from my family and friends when I need to lay low for a while. Come Tuesday, I was back at a full day. (I subbed in the HS math class and had a blast and then came home and worked several hours on writing my novel.)

Taking care of myself takes planning, money, effort, time, and willpower (all of which can slip now and then causing negative consequences). However, I’m beginning to have more energy, clarity, pain-free time that I can now participate in the things that bring me joy. I am so full of gratitude for this life of mine. I’m so grateful for this nervous-system that has worked on overdrive for so long trying to protect me. I’m so grateful for this body that lets me know what it needs (even to the point of causing me cravings for spinach, grapefruit, peanuts, etc.). I’m so grateful for my loved ones who give me the extra I need to let me this is all worth it.

I have found that gratitude, even in the hardest of times, allows me to FULLY live despite pain.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Melody Beattie, author

I wish you a joyous, gratitude-filled THANKSGIVING. I love to hear about your journey, your protocols, your process. Also, what are you grateful for?


teal line drawn waterlily with teal lettering of the title and motto